Jared and Faith were nice enough to drive us to Tel Aviv, so we gorged ourselves on sushi, enjoying the decidedly unkosher crispy baconmaki, and then spent a few hours on the beach. Once the fine sand had infiltrated every crevice, I bandited a quick open-air shower before hopping on a plane for fifteen hours. Sadly, the Philadelphia Chick-fil-a was closed due to our arrival on the Christian sabbath, so the trip was not a total success. Instead, I will leave you with the enduring image of Nasrallah stroking his beard.
To finish off our epic journey, we spent a day and night in the breathtaking desert landscape at Wadi Rum. We started with a short camel ride from the village to Lawrence Spring, aided by two young Bedouin boys. Then our guide Saleh picked us up with his 4×4, and we continued the rest of the way by modern conveyance. We visited natural rock bridges, ancient Nabatean petroglyphs, twisting siqs and huge sand dunes. We had two excellent home cooked meals, and watched from sunset to moonrise at his tent. For the evening we were joined by a French family, three small cats, and their innumerable fleas. No camel spiders, though.
We arrived back in Bethlehem after sixteen hours of travel, ready for a shower and a real bed. Jared did not disappoint.
I dragged Ruth around the whole of Petra today. The sun was fierce, but the air was cool, and we climbed to some of the lesser visited spots. Still as incredible as I remember it.
Spent our days in Damascus shopping during the day and drinking at night. We’re constantly in a state of mild dehydration, so two beers is usually enough. Not ten minutes after Ruth complained that we weren’t meeting enough locals on our trip, a Syrian/French couple invited us over to their table. They had seen us earlier in the day at the spice shop, recognized us in a bar, and proceded to buy us drinks and shisha for the rest of the evening. At first I suspected international espionage, but they were really just a sweet couple wanting to practice english. We discussed the state of the fashion industry, married life, and even some politics, while serenaded by an oud/tambourine duo. It’s a shame that this country has such a bad international reputation, as the people are incredibly friendly.
Spent the next day in bed with the itis, which made me glad I sprang for the ensuite room with air conditioning. No Aleppo for us, just a logey day in Damascus. Ruth went out shopping, and brought me back some orange juice, which I dutifully drank and then promptly expelled. She was a good sport about it, though. Felt good enough by dinner time for a little walk around town, but it was soon time to retire. Back on my feet in the morning, so at least it was short lived.
Leaving Damascus, we met a man who called himself “one legged Charlie.” He was a guide for the US troops in Lebanon before their pullout in 1983, and spoke english with a rat-pack Chicago accent. Now he translates between tourists and cabbies at the bus station, bringing a smile to both sides and swearing like a sailor. If you’re ever in Damascus, look him up, and he’ll show you around town. No bullshit, daddy-o.